6 Tips for Buying Used Camping Gear


Are you planning on doing any camping this year? We are since camping is one of my favorite frugal activities for families. We need to replace a couple pieces of our camping gear first. While I love buying new goodies, I also know the value of a good, used product. Camping gear is one of those values. Sure, there are plenty of deals on new camping and hiking gears out there, but you can save quite a bit of cash by buying used. The catch is though that you’ll need to pay attention to what you’re buying and these 6 tips for buying used camping and hiking gear can help you do just that.

Don't plan your camping trip without looking at your gear! These 6 tips for buying used camping gear will help you replace or purchase what you need without buying junk or getting burned!

When you first start planning a family camping tripyou’ll want to pull out the camping gear that you have already and see what might need to be replaced and what you will need but don’t have. This will let you know what you will be looking on deals for. After all, you can’t shop for something if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Okay, you totally can but that’s a great way to spend too much money and cause your budget to fail.

Tips for Buying Used Camping Gear

The next thing you’ll want to do is try to get as much as you can for free. I know that sounds crazy, but I use free gift cards that I earn each month for tasks like this. It keeps me from having to pay out of pocket which means I have more money in my checking and savings account. If you can pay for your gear with gift cards, you can keep more of your money in your pocket too. With that said though, you’ll still want to follow the tips for buying used camping gear below.

Know where to buy used camping gear 

Knowing where to get the best deal is key to saving money on anything, but it is especially true for outdoor and camping gear. You won’t want to run down to Walmart. For the best deals, check Ebay, Craigslist or your local Facebook buy/sell/trade groups. You’ll also want to check out REI. While they sell new items mostly, once a year they have the REI Garage sale where REI members can score very nice deals on used camping gear. It will cost you $20 to become a member but it is a lifetime membership and totally worth it.

Search for rips or tears before buying used camping gear

One of the biggest issues that you’ll find when you buy used camping gear is that some of them won’t be in the greatest condition. Be sure to check for rips or tears and that any zippers for tents or sleeping bags work well. If not, you can choose to walk away or you can choose to repair the item. Make sure you know though because otherwise you could find yourself with a faulty piece of equipment at the worst possible time.

Make sure all moving parts work when buying used camping gear

Just like with rips and tears, anything that has moving parts should be checked over thoroughly too. Glass should be intact, knobs should turn well and not be missing and so on. As before, if you know how to repair the item and you have the desire to, go for it. Just be sure that the item actually can be repaired and won’tend up being a money pit or waste of money for you and your family.

Don’t be afraid to haggle when buying used camping gear 

A lot of people are afraid of haggling for a deal, but there’s no real reason to. Learning how to haggle for the best price beforehand absolutely will help you though. If the item is ripped, torn or otherwise broken, but you still want it, haggling for it is a great option. Don’t offer a lowball offer and keep things reasonable and you’ll very likely end up getting an even better deal on it.

Attempt to barter when buying used camping gear 

Another thing that a lot of people are scared to do is offer to barter or trade for an item they want. Bartering is a very long lost skill for a lot of people these days, but it can be a profitable one. Knowing how to barter beforehand, like haggling, can give you a heads up on the skills that you’ll need. Now keep in mind that not every person will be willing to barter with you and that you can’t really barter anywhere other than Facebook groups or Craigslist, but if you’re looking for a deal, it’s certainly worth a shot.

Repair any issues when buying used camping gear

Finally, keep in mind that no matter how much you look over an item, the chances are great that you will still find an issue after you purchase it. That’s okay, just make sure that you repair any issues that you find before you attempt to use the item. Sew or glue anything that might need it, spray that “new” tent down with waterproofing spray to be sure it is done and do any other repairs that might be needed. After all, if you don’t repair the item when it needs it, you basically just wasted your money by purchasing something you can’t use.

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Stacy Barr
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Stacy Barr

Stacy Barr is the face and brain behind the frugal living and lifestyle blog Six Dollar Family. A true gypsy soul, her newest blog, Unsettled Hearts, chronicles the journey of her family to become full-time travelers. By the age of 30, Stacy had overcome an alcohol addiction, a drug addiction, divorce, survived domestic violence and had built a life for herself and her daughter after spending 10 months in a homeless shelter. Her book, also called Six Dollar Family, has sold more than 7,000 copies since its release.

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